Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Kailasanathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Sankara Parvati|
|Timing:||7 to 12 & 4.30 to 7.30||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Udaiyalur||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (6 km)||Thanjavur (36 km)|
|Tiruvarur (39 km)||Mayiladuthurai (44 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
In recent times, Udaiyalur has gained prominence as possibly the final resting place of the great Chola king Rajaraja Chola.
Flanking the very-well-maintained Agraharam of Udaiyalur village are two temples – a Perumal temple, and this temple for Siva as Kailasanathar. There are also two other temples for Palkulathi Amman (more on that later) and Selvi Makali Amman, both of which are regarded as grama-devatas – guardian deities protecting the village.
In addition, there is a separate Siva Lingam amidst the fields, which is said to be the final resting place of Rajaraja Chola. Some people, however, regard this Kailasanathar temple as the mausoleum of Rajaraja Chola.
In earlier times, this place had the name Sri Kangeyapuram. Udaiyalur gets is name from Ulagamuzhuthudayal, one of Rajaraja Chola’s queens, to whom he gifted the temple. As a result, the place came to be called Ulagamuzhuthudayal-ur (town of Ulagamuzhuthudayal), and later, simply Udaiyalur.
Once in Kailasam, Siva was imparting Brahma Tatvam to Parvati in private. Murugan, then a child, happened to barge into their chambers, and had to be punished for his offence. So, Siva asked Murugan to Sri Kangeyapuram and worship Him. While Murugan was engaged in penance, he heard a celestial voice telling him to use his spear to dig a temple tank, which was promptly done (and is hence called Kumara Teertham). Murugan took a bath in the tank and was relieved of his curse.
Later, Ajamaharaja who was ruling this region, was affected by leprosy. He approached Sage Vasishtha for a cure, and the latter told the king to take a bath in the temple’s tank created by Murugan, and then worship Kailasanathar here. As he was doing so, the king heard a celestial voice, asking him to worship Kamadhenu. He did so, and Kamadhenu materialised immediately, and began filling up the tank with her milk (and ever since then, this pond has also been called Paal-Kulam, meaning pond of milk). The king bathed in the milk, and then worshipped Kailasanathar, which relieved him of his disease.
The structural temple was constructed in the time of Rajaraja Chola, dating back to the late 10th or early 11th century. Ulagamuzhuthudayal provided grants of her own, for the upkeep of the temple and to ensure regular pujas. There seem to have been some later improvements undertaken during the Nayak period.
In Chola times, this place was called Arumozhideva Valanattu Sivapadasekara Mangalam, and the deity here was called Sivapadasekara Easwaramudaiyar. Given the many connections with Rajaraja Chola, his birth star – Sadayam – is celebrated with great pomp at this temple.
While the temple faces east, the main entrance is through a mottai-gopuram to the south. There is no raja gopuram here. The architecture here is classic early Chola, evident by the fact that the koshta murtis all clearly seem to be later additions. Amman’s south-facing shrine is, unusually, not part of the maha-mandapam, but separately to the east of the temple (and hence there is no eastern entrance). In the north-west corner of the temple are Lingams which were worshipped by the five elements – pancha boothas. There is also a separate shrine for the Pancha Bhairavars. Elsewhere in various places within the premises, are old or damaged murtis, which are strewn around the temple.
One could say that the temple’s architecture almost entirely revolves around Rajaraja Chola and his devotion to Siva, depicted by some very interesting and engaging elements of iconography and architecture at this temple. First, at the feet of the dwarapalakas in the garbhagriham, are two devotees – one male, and one female – with a tuft on their heads. Given that Sivapadasekaran is one of the titles of Rajaraja Chola, the two devotees should be depictions of Rajaraja Chola and his queen Ulagamuzhuthudayal. Next, adjancent to these are two sculptures of a king and queen worshipping Siva – these would also be Rajaraja Chola and his queen. Then, in the mandapam in the front of the temple (leading up to the Amman shrine) is a sculpture depicting a Lingam being worshipped by a person. This is known as the Sivapadasekara Anugraha Murti, created exclusively to depict Rajaraja Chola’s devotion to Siva.
The temple also has several inscriptions, including several specifically mentioning Rajaraja Chola. Other inscriptions also refer to patronage by Kulothunga Chola I, Vikrama Chola, Rajaraja Chola II, Kulothunga Chola II, Rajaraja Chola III and Sadayavarman Sundarapandiyan.
Other Information for your visit
The Paalkulathi Amman temple mentioned above, is so named because Her temple is located on the banks of the Paal Kulam (the one filled with milk by Kamadhenu). This temple is significant, and of interest to those keen on Chola history. This Amman temple’s doorjamb – made of granite – carries the inscription announcing the demise of Rajaraja Chola.